Doing a detox? Here's what you need to know.
What is a Detox?
Store shelves and social media ads may promote success of 1-week cleanses and detox kits, but do we know what it takes to detox the body of toxins? Bioaccumulation of toxins occurs, but the body has a way of metabolizing and removing these toxins daily. It’s how the body survives and thrives.
Instead of searching for a short-term cleanse or detox, the goal should be to find ways of optimizing the daily function of our detox organs , including skin, lungs, lymphatic system, kidneys, and lungs. The liver is the hub of our body’s detoxification activities.
There are many steps, cofactors, and biochemical reactions that occur during detoxification, but let’s look at a quick and easy explanation of how the liver detoxifies the body of toxins.
Within the liver, there are two important phases of detoxification. In Phase 1, the toxins are metabolized or broken down. In Phase 2, toxins are neutralized by binding to compounds made by our cells so that they can be excreted from the body through a process called conjugation. Once neutralized, the toxins can now be eliminated via our urinary or fecal system.
Now that you have a better idea of what detoxification in the body looks like, let’s look at the different ways we can optimize our liver detoxification pathways.
The Problem with Commercial Detox Kits
The issue with commercial detoxes comes from the idea that you can detoxify your body of all toxins in a short amount of time. In some cases, you can do more harm than good if you’re detox plan is unnecessary or carried out for too long.
For example, prolonged detoxes that are food restrictive (think master cleanse) can leave out a variety of nutrients and healthy fats from your diet that the body needs to thrive. Of course, there’s a time and place for eliminating certain foods and resetting the body, but it’s important to understand the reasoning behind why you want to follow a detox program.
If you’re reading this, you might be thinking, what about my friend who went on a juice detox for a week and felt great while losing weight? Consider that weight loss and feeling good may stem from eliminating processed foods from your diet and not from the fact that you’re detoxing your body of toxins.
Reduce your Exposure to Toxins Where Possible
Seems simple enough right? The reality is toxin exposure is going to happen. However, we can limit our exposure to toxins that we come across from our environment and in our food. Two easy ways of limiting exposure are by purchasing “Clean Products” (look for non- cosmetic products, or environmentally safe cleaning products) and opting for organic foods that are normally processed with pesticides and antibiotics. Here’s a list of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for 2021.
When we limit our toxic load, we’re giving our body a chance to detoxify daily without being overwhelmed. Picture an office worker having piles of work dumped on their desk every hour. This leaves the employee feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and prevents them from finishing any task at hand. On the other hand, handing small projects throughout the day with plenty of time in between allows the worker to be more efficient in completing the tasks that are asked of them.
The same thing can be said about your liver. Don’t overwork the liver!
Avoid Refined Sugars and Oxidized Fats
When your body is occupied breaking down high sugars and inflammatory foods, it takes away from the time and resources needed for detoxification systems in the body.
Limiting foods that are higher in refined sugar and oxidized fats from fried foods is just one simple way we can prevent the liver from being overburdened. When detoxing the body, what you eliminate from your diet is just as important as what you add to the diet.
Focus on Food Quality
Not only does nutrient-dense food provide the cofactors needed for detoxification, but they also provide antioxidants that are needed when free radicals are created because of the detoxification process. To add to this, when fat loss occurs from detoxification, fatty acids are mobilized and increases circulating POP’s (persistent organic pollutants). Phase 1 of liver detoxification may also create free radicals as toxins are broken down.
Eating foods that contain antioxidants (dark leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables) can help with neutralizing oxidative stress because of detoxification. Organic protein sources are also important to detoxification as the amino acids from protein bind to these toxins in the liver so that they can be carried out of the body. This process is also known as conjugation. To fill any dietary gaps and increase antioxidant status in the body, consider a quality multivitamin such as Easymulti from Platinum Naturals or a product like activated-C that contains antioxidants Selenium, Vitamin C, and Plant Polyphenols.
Focusing on nutrient-dense foods will also improve gut health and digestion. This leads to the effective elimination of toxins from the digestive system. Filtered water and soluble and non-soluble fibre rich foods (chia seeds, flax, and leafy greens) will optimize bowel movements.
Increase Glutathione Levels
Cruciferous veggies such as Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower contain sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce inflammation and the generation of reactive oxygen species and free radicals. In so doing, studies have shown that the reduced oxidative load is correlated with an increase in glutathione levels.
Glutathione is considered our master antioxidant that fights free radical damage while helping the body neutralize with toxins and helping them to the body. Glutathione levels can become depleted from stress and age, declining 15-45% after age forty.
Utilize the Power of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant that increases protein synthesis to repair liver cell damage and protect healthy liver function. It neutralizes harmful foreign materials, including alcohol and medications such as acetaminophen, before they can damage the DNA, proteins and lipids in our liver cells. This helps to protect the liver from injury. Total Liver Care from Platinum Naturals is made with Euromed PhytoProof® milk thistle extract, the world’s leading manufacturer of clinically tested milk thistle extract.
Here’s the Breakdown…
- Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins as they support daily liver detoxification of toxins in the body.
- Harsh and short-term cleanses and detoxes may not be as effective in detoxing your body of toxins. Success may be due to the elimination of processed foods and caloric restriction.
- Limit toxic exposure daily by avoiding personal and household products that contain harsh chemicals.
- Choose organic sources of foods that are void of pesticides and preservatives.
- In the long run, limiting toxic exposure while supporting detox organs is the most effective way of detoxing the body of toxins.
- He et al (2017) Int J Environ Res Public Health 14: 59; doi:10.3390/ijerph14010059
- Lang, C.A. (2001) J Anti-Aging Med 4(2): 137-144